As cheesy as it sounds, I left a little piece of my heart in Hanoi. It was an unlikely romance – through the stressful chaos in the streets and the fact that we were stuck there for a few days with not much to do due to my sudden but very real lack of a passport, I expected to run from Hanoi screaming and never look back. But, now that we’ve left it, I so desperately long to return.
I can’t really describe what about this city charmed me so – maybe it’s the fact that it’s a restless, constant moving organism with so many different stories moving through it. Or maybe it’s the easygoing attitude of the locals. Chances are, it’s the countless hole-in-the-wall restaurants that never fail to amaze. Or, maybe even the incredible Vietnamese coffee we had on all too many occasions.
Most likely it’s a little bit of all these things mashed together – regardless, Hanoi stole my heart like no other city has so far.
Here are my top tips for a few lovely days in this charming, crazy city.
Take a walk down to the Lake
Right at the center of the Old Quater is a lake called ‘Ho Bay Mau’, with a bridge to a temple. Here you can explore a historic temple and some Vietnamese history, as well as meet some locals! 🐱
Try the most run down restaurant you can find
My experience in Hanoi was this: the sketchier it looks, the better the food is. I have to admit that we didn’t quite brave the dark corridors that so eerily called to us, but we got pretty close. While you’re there, absolutely try Ban My (basically subs) Pho, and stir fried noodles. They also make ‘morning glory’, which is basically fried spinach with garlic – so delicious!
I also had the best vegan soup I have ever tasted in Hanoi (apart from a Tom Yum in Chiang Mai). Yeah, it’s vegan!!
Live out your deepest shopaholic dreams
Hanoi has some of the best deals I’ve ever seen – walk around the old quarter and you’ll find bags, electronic accessories, rain jackets, and anything else your heart desires.
Head to the Party Streets
Hanoi’s streets are bustling at night – walk through the streets and scan the area to find the best ‘happy hour’ deals. Hint: at most places, happy hour is basically all day.